Sweden is one of the safest, greenest and most forward-thinking countries in the world. It consistently ranks high in international surveys for quality of life, and its citizens enjoy a high standard of living. It is no surprise that Sweden is increasingly popular with British ex-pats.
If you’re considering moving to Sweden, this guide will cover how to relocate to Sweden from the UK and all the essential information you need to know before moving, including information on visas and residency, finding a place to live and removals to Sweden. It also covers some challenges you may face during the transition, such as cultural and social differences.
Moving to Sweden from the UK after Brexit?
Brexit has raised many questions about the possibility of living and working abroad as a UK citizen. Although many things have changed about moving to Europe after Brexit, it is still possible to move to Sweden. Since this beautiful country has one of the most polished and streamlined relocation processes in Europe, moving to Sweden is almost as easy now as it was before Brexit.
Work and residence permits
Although the UK has left the EU, British citizens can still stay in Sweden for up to 90 days without a visa. However, unlike before Brexit, British citizens who plan to move to Sweden or stay for more than 90 days must now obtain a residence permit before entering the country, with those moving to work requiring a work permit before entering.
Acquiring a work permit in Sweden
You must already have an employment contract before starting your working visa application process. To apply for a work permit, you will also need to send your employment contract and copies of the photo page of your passport. You cannot get a permit for longer than your passport is valid, so if your passport expires soon, you must extend it before moving to Sweden.
If you are granted a working visa lasting more than three months, you will be granted a residence permit. For this to be confirmed, you must register your fingerprints and have your photo taken at the Swedish embassy.
Relocating to Sweden with a family
If your family are accompanying you in Sweden, you can apply for them to obtain Swedish residence permits. Your family members can acquire a residence card if they have valid passports and can provide documentation to show that they are part of your family. If they fulfil the requirements and are allowed right of residence, family members have the right to start working or studying immediately after moving to Sweden. They will not need to wait for a residence card.
To obtain a residence card for your family members, they must be one of the following:
- Your partner,
- Your dependent children,
- Your dependent parents,
- Another family member who is dependent on you for subsistence is part of your household, or who requires your care due to serious health conditions.
Acquiring a residence permit on the basis of self-employment
If you are looking to live as a self-employed worker in Sweden, you will need to apply for a residence permit to run your own business.
To qualify for this permit, you will need to:
- have a valid passport that will not expire during the duration of the permit;
- provide evidence that you have executive responsibility for your business;
- demonstrate significant experience in the industry as well as previous experience in managing your own business;
- have an established customer network;
- be able to provide proof of sufficient personal funds to support yourself and any accompanying family members for the duration of the two-year permit,
‘Sufficient personal funds’ is defined as the equivalent of SEK 200,000 (around £16,000) for the applicant, SEK 100,000 (around £8,000) for an accompanying spouse, and SEK 50,000 (around £4,000) for each accompanying child.
After submitting your application, the Swedish Migration Agency will conduct a financial assessment of your business plans.
EU Blue Card Scheme
The European Blue Card is a work permit which grants entry and residence to highly qualified workers. Having an EU Blue Card can make moving to Sweden and obtaining Swedish work and residence permits much simpler.
If you are a non-EU citizen and have received an offer for work in Sweden that requires the use of your qualifications, you can apply for an EU Blue Card. To qualify for this card, you must have the equivalent of 180 credits from a tertiary education institution, five years of professional experience, and a salary at least 1.5 times the average gross salary in Sweden (ie 541,000.00 SEK=£43,535).
Registering with the Tax Agency
Upon moving to Sweden, you will need to register with the Swedish Tax Agency and get a personal identification number. This is called a personnummer and is similar to a British National Insurance number. You can do this using the online Move to Sweden service.
The personnummer is essential for anyone moving to Sweden, since it is necessary for opening a bank account, receiving a salary, accessing healthcare services, registering children at a school or nursery, registering as a jobseeker and many other purposes.
Finding work as a foreigner
One of the most frequently asked questions for hopeful ex-pats post-Brexit is whether there is still work for British ex-pats in Sweden. Fortunately, job prospects in Sweden are excellent. The country has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world, and skilled workers are particularly in demand, especially in engineering, teaching, and IT.
There are a few avenues to find work in Sweden as a foreigner. The easiest is to go through a Swedish recruitment agency. Many of these agencies have websites you can browse to find job openings that fit your skills and qualifications. Other online tools such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Indeed can help you find work upon moving to Sweden.
Another great way to find work when you move to Sweden is through networking. This can involve contacting people you know who are already working in the country or reaching out to professional organisations based in Sweden. Many British ex-pats expand their network by directly contacting Swedish companies they are interested in working for, which you can do by sending them a CV and cover letter. You can also find helpful contacts by attending job fairs and other events in the UK or Sweden that these companies may be participating in.
One of the best ways to improve your job prospects is by learning Swedish. While almost all Swedes speak English, it is not always the language they choose to use in business.
If you are self-employed or have regular contact with Swedish suppliers or customers, a good working knowledge of Swedish will make life and business much easier.
Life in Sweden
As a British ex-pat moving from UK to Sweden, it is unlikely you will encounter many culture shocks. However, it can be helpful to have an understanding of the local lifestyle and culture before moving to Sweden from UK.
Swedish work culture
Sweden ranks among the best countries in the world on the OCED(Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) index for work-life balance, and it is not difficult to understand why. Very few people in Sweden work more than 40 hours per week, and workers are often flexible with their hours to fit work around life and family.
British ex-pats who move to Sweden find that companies offer generous paid parental leave and, as stipulated by Swedish law, workers are entitled to 5 weeks of paid vacation per year. This generous vacation time encourages workers to take time off and enjoy their lives outside of work, with plenty of opportunities to enjoy Sweden’s beautiful cities and natural attractions.
Similarly, there are plenty of opportunities for workers moving to Sweden from UK to take breaks during the workday. For example, it is common for employees to take a 20-minute coffee break in the morning and afternoon, referred to as fika. This allows employees to take a work break and relax, reducing stress levels.
Swedish employers are required by law to provide their employees with a healthy work environment. This means employers must provide their employees with adequate breaks, a comfortable workspace, and access to fresh air and sunlight.
The excellent working conditions and work-life balance in Sweden not only mean that workers are happier and healthier but also that professional productivity and growth is boosted by sufficient time to relax and recharge. Moving to Sweden is an excellent choice if you are looking to boost your professional development.
Many British citizens choose to move to Sweden from UK. There are large ex-pat communities, especially in larger cities, which offer plenty of opportunities to socialise and network with fellow ex-pats. Additionally, more than 80% of Swedes speak English, meaning that in social settings, language barriers are rarely an issue for British ex-pats moving to Sweden.
Swedes are typically very welcoming and kind towards ex-pats. They are known for being reserved and rarely engaging in small talk, but in reality, this is because Swedes place a strong cultural emphasis on respecting others’ privacy. While they may seem quiet at first, once you have overcome these social boundaries with your friends in Sweden, you will find them warm and loyal.
Like other Scandinavian countries, Sweden has an incredibly progressive culture of openness and tolerance towards everyone. Upon moving to Sweden, you will find that anyone is welcome and will be respected and supported by the community.
Swedish healthcare is globally recognised as excellent, and anyone moving to Sweden has easy access to it. Although treatment is not free, it is rarely expensive, thanks to national limits placed on medical fees.
Fortunately for British ex-pats, anyone with a residence permit has access to the Swedish public healthcare system, including GPs, dental care, hospital stays, and prescriptions. There may be waiting lists for some specialist procedures, but Swedish law stipulates that you should not have to wait for these for more than 90 days.
Swedish pharmacies are called Apoteket. They are generally open from 10.00 am to 6.00pm from Monday to Friday and close earlier on weekends. Larger cities have 24-hour pharmacies for quick healthcare solutions.
Ex-pats moving to Sweden from UK may find that the variety of over-the-counter drugs is reduced. However, pharmacists in Sweden are very helpful and highly trained, and will listen to your needs and make a recommendation. You can reach emergency services in Sweden by calling 112.
Swedish education is among the best in the world, and helpfully for ex-pats who move to Sweden, larger cities such as Stockholm and Malmö have a wealth of excellent international schools.
Public schools in Sweden are free to attend. There is also the option of charter schools, which are private schools that receive public funding. The fees for charter schools and international schools are regulated by the government but can be anywhere from around £2,500 to £8,000 annually.
Sweden is known for its high-quality yet affordable higher education. Tuition at Swedish state-funded institutions is free for those with a permanent Swedish residence permit. If you are moving to Sweden with your loved ones and family, they will be entitled to high-quality education.
You can use your UK licence after relocating to Sweden. However, if your move to Sweden is likely to be permanent, you may find it helpful to exchange your licence for a Swedish licence, as some employers require an EU licence. There is no time limit for exchanging your licence.
Upon moving to Sweden from the UK, you will find that, like all Swedish infrastructure, roads in Sweden are very well maintained. The country is said to have the best motorways in Europe, as well as the least congested roads. Traffic jams are incredibly rare in rural Sweden.
However, for British ex-pats, Swedish wildlife may represent a significant hazard. Local drivers will be accustomed to seeing an elk or moose on the road, but for those who have only recently moved to Sweden, it may come as a shock, so be sure to be aware of local wildlife while driving in rural Sweden.
Road conditions might pose another problem for British ex-pats moving to Sweden. Winter conditions can be harsh, with long periods of snowfall and very low temperatures. Driving conditions are often icy and slippery.
Shipping furniture to Sweden may be difficult for British ex-pats driving themselves. For an easy, hassle-free move, leave your removals to Sweden to us. We are experts in international removals with the experience and resources to guarantee the safe transportation of your belongings, no matter the conditions.
Travelling around Sweden is incredibly easy thanks to its efficient public transport systems. Sweden’s rail system is one of the most efficient in the world, making travelling by train an easy and stress-free way to see the country. Ex-pats moving to Sweden frequently recommend travelling by train, since it is also a great way to see the stunning Swedish countryside.
Transport in cities is incredibly efficient, and most have systems allowing you to buy tickets that last a whole month or year at a reduced price, making travelling much more affordable. Travelling in cities is often easier than using public transport in rural areas of Sweden, but even in smaller towns, there is often a regional management system in place to optimise its function.
Moving to Sweden also opens up the opportunity for incredible trips to other Scandinavian and Northern European countries. From Sweden, you can easily travel to Denmark, Norway and Finland, allowing you to see some of the most beautiful scenery on Earth. With towering mountains, pristine forests, and crystal-clear lakes, travelling in Scandinavia is an incredible experience. You will also be on the doorstep of Scandinavia’s rich culture and history, with countless museums and historical sites to explore.
Swedish cuisine is renowned for its variety and innovation. From traditional Swedish dishes such as Swedish meatballs and herring to the modern gastronomic creations emerging in Stockholm and other cities, Sweden has something to offer everyone.
As an ex-pat moving to Sweden, there are a few traditional dishes that you must try to truly integrate yourself into the local culture:
- Köttbullar, which is lightly seasoned minced pork or beef meatballs cooked in butter and traditionally served with mashed potato, lingonberry jam, and brown cream sauce;
- Semla, a simple wheat bun, flavoured with cardamom and filled with almond paste and whipped cream and traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday but nowadays sold in bakeries from the end of Christmas until Easter;
- Sill, or pickled herring, usually flavoured with herbs and eaten all year round with potatoes, sour cream, egg and crisp bread;
- Filmjölk, which is a type of thick yoghurt, fermented with a particular species of bacteria to give it a uniquely sharp, buttery flavour, and typically eaten at breakfast with muesli or cereal and fresh fruit.
Swedish cuisine places a heavy emphasis on locally sourced, sustainable ingredients. Upon moving to Sweden, you will undoubtedly find that the local cuisine is fresh, healthy, environmentally friendly, and easily adapted to suit any diet. Sweden is considered one of the most vegetarian and vegan-friendly countries in the world.
Cost of living
Scandinavian countries are known for being expensive, which is a key concern for many ex-pats moving to Sweden. However, life in Sweden is often much cheaper than the UK, and it is possible to have a much higher quality of life on a similar salary in Sweden. The main difference in prices is in food and drink expenses.
Eating out is less common in Sweden than in many other European countries, since it is much more common to cook together as a household. This makes eating out in Sweden marginally more expensive than in other countries.
Weekly grocery expenses in Sweden are much the same as in the UK, but certain products such as meat and cheese cost much more. Alcohol prices in Sweden are similar to the UK, although beer is often more expensive.
Whether you are looking to rent or to buy in Sweden, there are plenty of options for locations and specific properties. Property in most areas is significantly cheaper than in the UK, so wherever you choose when moving to Sweden, you will get excellent value for your money.
Renting in Sweden
Most ex-pats moving to Sweden choose to start by renting rather than purchasing a home. Renting allows you more flexibility regarding the type of property, its location, the duration of your stay and more.
There are a few ways to find properties to rent when you move to Sweden. Perhaps the most common method is online sites such as Bostadshub.se or Residensportalen.com.
Another way is to visit your local municipality’s website and look under lediga lägenheter (vacant apartments). You might even find your perfect home simply by walking in an area and looking for signs saying ledigt (vacant).
Buying in Sweden
If you prefer not to rent or are moving to Sweden for a long enough period to make renting inconvenient, buying is a great choice. Sweden has a very stable economy and is consistently ranked as one of the best destinations in the world to invest in real estate.
A few websites are dedicated to helping people find property in Sweden, and these can be an excellent place to start your search. However, if you’re looking to buy a property in Sweden, contacting a local real estate agent is the best place to start. They will be able to help you navigate the process and find a property that meets your needs.
Best Swedish Cities for expats
There are many beautiful places to choose from when moving to Sweden. The most popular areas for British ex-pats are Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmo. These cities offer a great mix of culture, nightlife, and scenery. There are also opportunities to buy property in the Swedish countryside, which is perfect for those seeking a more tranquil lifestyle.
Below, we will look at some of the most popular choices for British ex-pats who move to Sweden.
Malmö is the third-largest city in Sweden and the largest city in the beautiful county of Skåne.
The city is situated on the southwestern tip of Sweden, on the other side of the strait of Öresund from Copenhagen, Denmark, making it easy to travel between the two countries. The city has a low crime rate and is a popular tourist destination known for its picturesque canals and cobbled streets. Many ex-pats moving to Sweden choose to move to Malmö, meaning that you will benefit from a large ex-pat community.
Malmö is perfect for families, thanks to its high quality of living and its many green spaces and cultural activities. It has a number of excellent schools and universities, making it a great place for those moving to Sweden with children.
It has a lively nightlife scene, with many bars and clubs to enjoy. It is also home to a thriving start-up scene, which attracts many young professionals.
Malmö is also one of the most eco-friendly cities in the world, having made sustainability a main priority since 1995. Today, it is home to entire climate-neutral districts, a green, accessible public transportation system that makes it easy to navigate without using a car, and a significant proportion of its energy comes from renewable sources.
Gothenburg, located on the west coast of Sweden, is a beautiful city with a lively cultural scene. It offers easy access to the sea and the countryside, and is known for its stunning architecture, pleasant climate, and friendly people.
Gothenburg is an excellent choice for families and young professionals looking to move to Sweden since it has an excellent balance of natural, green spaces and convenient city life. The city has a great selection of schools, daycare options, and a wide variety of parks and playgrounds.
The city is also home to many businesses and startups, making it a great place to work and build a career. As a diverse city on a smaller scale than most major European cities, Gothenburg offers a ‘small-town feel’ with the options of a major hub.
There are plenty of things to do and see, and the city is well-connected, making it easy to get around.
Stockholm is the capital of Sweden, spread across 14 islands on the country’s southeast coast. As a highly international city and a global hub, it is teeming with life and energy, and there are plenty of professional and personal development opportunities.
Stockholm is often considered to be the most prosperous city in Sweden, with a strong job market and many opportunities for young professionals. The cost of living is higher than elsewhere in Sweden, but Stockholm salaries match the high living costs.
Many ex-pats moving to Sweden with children choose Stockholm for its high quality of life and safety. It also has excellent schools, hospitals, and many world-class universities.
Stockholm is also the perfect place to live for those who love the outdoors since you can enjoy an active lifestyle even when living in an international hub. The city offers beautiful views of the sea and surrounding countryside, plenty of green spaces to enjoy and a network of cycle paths and walking trails.
The city’s location means plenty of activities all year round, from winter activities such as cross-country skiing, ice skating and snowboarding to summer pastimes like swimming and canoeing in the beautiful Lake Mälaren.
If you are moving to Sweden to benefit from its rich culture, Stockholm is the place to be, since it offers a lively cultural scene with museums, theatres and concert halls.
Public transport in Stockholm is cheap and convenient. To use it while living in Stockholm, you will need an SL Access card, which you can load money onto and travel cheaply around the city. Stockholm’s metro stations are said to be the world’s longest art exhibition, each decorated with unique and fascinating pieces.
How can Matthew James Removals help me with removals to Sweden?
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